Jump to content
koolmoecraig

Lotharek Mods - Which are "Must do"?

Recommended Posts

Figured I would upgrade my 800XL during this nightmare we're living through.

 

Which of these Lotharek mods would be considered "must-have"?  I just use my machine to play games.

 

I was looking at the Ultimate 1MB Upgrade FJC FIRMWARE and VBXL XL VERSION.  Thoughts?

 

Also, if I get the VBXL then I wouldn't need The Ultimate Atari Video Board from The Brewing Academy, right?

 

Thanks for the guidance!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Ha.  I meant more "Must" as in they're cool to the point that I'd want to do them.

 

Which for the best picture?

Edited by koolmoecraig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, koolmoecraig said:

Which for the best picture?

Yes: if I may further garnish the already copious and edifying foregoing response; video upgrades (assuming you don't want extra video hardware capabilities like 80 column text, etc) depend somewhat on your display device. You have:

  • VBXE (Lotharek). 15KHz RGB video (compatible with SCART TVs, Commodore 1084-S, Philips CM8833-II, CGA/VGA upscalers). Extra hardware modes, 80 column text, blitter, etc.
  • Sophia RGB/Component (Simius). 15KHz RGB video or Component video. Extra hi-res colour (optional). No additional video capabilities.
  • Sophia DVI (Simius). Standard DVI-D video output via supplied DVI jack. Compatible with DVI-D TVs and monitors, and HDMI displays via a simple DVI/HDMI cable. Audio must be carried separately (no digital audio).
  • UAV (The Brewing Academy). High-quality s-video and composite video, compatible with the same display devices one would use with a stock machine.

In terms of picture quality, Sophia DVI offers the sharpest possible image. Compatibility with modern displays (and thus convenience) is high. Artifacting and other effects dependent on analogue video are not emulated, so one may wish to fall back on 'stock' video in some cases. Sophia DVI and UAV could be installed in the same machine, offering the best of both worlds.

 

The two RGB solutions listed offer an only slightly less sharp and well saturated image (than that offered by DVI), and may likewise benefit from improvements to the stock video (when one wishes to exploit artifacting, 'PAL blending', etc). VBXE - unlike the others - is essentially a graphics card for the Atari, offering vastly improved colour depth and resolution. A hardware blitter is also provided, and there is a 'GTIA Core' which emulates PAL blending effects.

 

UAV is the least intrusive solution, correcting flaws in the original video circuit and providing the best possible s-video and composite signals. UAV can co-exist with any of the other solutions.

 

If you wish to play games and have no need of hard disks, extra memory, etc, a multi-cart like SIDE2 or AVG (provided by tmp) offers a convenient means of loading titles at extremely high speed from a Compact Flash (SIDE2) or SD Card. AVG has the advantage of offering cartridge emulation if that is something you require. SIDE2, meanwhile (basic operation of which the AVG Cart is capable of flatteringly emulating), has a built-in real time clock and ROM-based DOS, and can integrate tightly with Ultimate 1MB where present (although you probably don't require U1MB).

 

Alternatively, if break-neck loading speeds are of less importance, you may consider an SIO-based game loader such as SIO2SD or SDrive. There is some discussion of these devices, as well as the multi-carts, in the Topic For Newbies.

Edited by flashjazzcat
  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you very much for taking the time to type all of that out.  It's very helpful!

 

How exactly would I get the audio out with the Sophia DVI?  I'm picturing DVI to HDMI input on my TV but then how will I get my TV to put out the audio if it's just looking to the HDMI for the signals?

 

I do have an SIO2SD that I enjoy but I think I am going to get the SDrive.   I was als trying to figure out the best Cart to get as well. Perhaps the AVG. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, koolmoecraig said:

How exactly would I get the audio out with the Sophia DVI?  I'm picturing DVI to HDMI input on my TV but then how will I get my TV to put out the audio if it's just looking to the HDMI for the signals?

You have to run a separate audio line out of your Atari.  My television has a 3.5mm audio input jack that overrides everything else, whatever is plugged into it is what the TV speakers output.  Apparently not all televisions are made this way though.  A friend of mine also has a SOPHIA DVI installed in his XE and has to output the audio to a pair of external speakers. 

 

Here is a picture of my DVI and audio lines out of the back of my 600XL:

20200502_212231.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

most NTSC televisions of back in the day until  recently allowed for connection to left channel only for mono, this function meant the tv would output whatever was input into the left channel to both it's speakers. (it's normally noted on the jack or in it's manual). Some of the later displays require you to set MONO a the audio choice. Some the very latest don't have any real features at all and don't even provide for composite video let alone mono channel input. It can't hurt to read and try...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, koolmoecraig said:

Thanks, SS

 

How is the picture?  Sharp as a knife?

Yes, very much so.  The output is very comparable to what you would expect to see from an emulator connected to a modern TV via HDMI.  

20200502_220605.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, koolmoecraig said:

Is there a kit or instructions anywhere that shows the procedure to add the audio out?

 

Thank you

You can take audio from the monitor port or install a dual POKEY stereo board and add a dedicated audio plug. If you use the standard headphone plug type, it neatly fits in the hole of the RF plug with a washer or 3D printed adapter. (Assuming the RF modulator has been removed).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, koolmoecraig said:

Is there a kit or instructions anywhere that shows the procedure to add the audio out?

 

Thank you

This is the second of two videos covering such an installation:

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Curious, DVI can indeed transport audio, is there a reason the Sophia board didn't add some sort of connection for just using the DVI out?  Only Sophia install I have is in my 5200, and I opted for the RGB version, so I could use a SCART to OSSC cable.  That version of the Sophia does Audio and Video.

Edited by leech

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And for the original post;  All the things!

I have one of my systems that I got all the upgrades on (130XE with Rapidus, VBXE, U1MB, Stereo Pokey, SIDE2).  The only downside to it is the lack of standard composite output if I want to play games that use Artifacting (I want to make a list of those and see if maybe some of us can fix them so they will display correctly somehow on the VBXE, maybe enhance them a bit!).  With that in mind, lately I've had my 130XE connected to my Atari SC1435.  It looks brilliant!  And uses the original cable that came with my Mega STe (that has an audio out connector on the monitor cable.  Funny thing is, if I plug that exact cable into a 1040STe (and I'm assuming the Mega STe), I get buzzing sound, because the audio goes out the stereo ports, not the monitor port.

 

Kind of brilliant to use a nice 130XE connected to a nice grey SC1435 to match :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, leech said:

Curious, DVI can indeed transport audio, is there a reason the Sophia board didn't add some sort of connection for just using the DVI out? 

DVI can support audio when connected to an HDMI monitor, however HDMI audio is digital while the Atari8 audio output is analog.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have Simius' Sophia DVI and you can't get a clearer picture. It is razor sharp and, nothing against Quadrunner's photography skills, but his picture doesn't come close to doing it justice. In all honesty, I'm not sure anyone's picture would. You can watch this video and get a good idea how sharp it is, but it'll still only give you an idea of what you'll experience in person. He goes through the install, so it's really useful, but if you just want to see the image quality, he finally boots it up around the 5:30 mark.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao2m5cy9g14&t=94s

 

As some have mentioned, sound is the major drawback with the Sophia DVI. Most modern displays made in the past five or six years expect sound to come in on the HDMI signal and don't have separate audio inputs for the HDMI source.

 

The good thing about DVI and HDMI is that they're both digital signals, so there's really no conversion needed. All you need is a DVI to HDMI adapter cable. I use this simple AmazonBasics cable and it works great.

 

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-DVI-to-HDMI-Cable/dp/B014I8UQJY/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords="dvi+to+hdmi"+audio&qid=1589769179&sr=8-3

 

If you wanted to use your display's sound rather than a external speakers or audio system, you would need to convert the analog audio to digital and inject it into the HDMI stream. This first device would work with the aforementioned DVI to HDMI cable and analog audio input.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-BlackbirdTM-HDMI-Audio-Inserter/dp/B01B5FR7PY/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords="dvi+to+hdmi"+audio&qid=1589769179&sr=8-5

 

This second device would do the same but it has a DVI input, so you'd just need to use a standard DVI cable to the device then an HDMI cable from the output.

 

https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-Video-Converter-Audio-DVI2HDMIA/dp/B005G3VQ5E/ref=sr_1_35?dchild=1&keywords="dvi+to+hdmi"+audio&qid=1589769281&sr=8-35

 

On those last two devices, I just want to make it clear that I have no direct experience with either of them, though I have been looking into both. I may pick up one of them eventually and will gladly post my results on this forum once I do, but I have no idea at this point whether or not they really work or how well.

 

If you decide to purchase a Sophia DVI, one thing to keep in mind is to really research the resolution you have it programmed for. He has about four different ones available and in my experience, some of them are really compatible, and some of them are really not. When I first purchased mine, I had it programmed at 1536x960. I have ten different displays in my home, a combination of TVs and monitors, all made within the last decade, half within the last five years. I couldn't get my Sophia to display on a single one of them. I contacted Simius and got the firmware for another resolution and reprogrammed my Sophia. 1280x1024 on the other hand, works on every single display in my house without the first hiccup. Take that for what it's worth. You can get the other cores from Simius and reprogram your Sophia, but it requires a special device and cable, cheaply and easily bought, and some free programming software. The process isn't super hard, but it is a little involved for those not experienced with such things, so please keep this in mind when making a resolution decision.

 

Finally, right now, with a lot of us having a lot of free time on our hands, it seems like a great time to play with all these upgrades. Keep in mind that most of these are coming out of eastern Europe and shipping has been down for months. I ordered a VBXE and a Satandisk for my STE from Lotharek the first week in March. I have a tracking number, but my order still hasn't left his house yet, because the standard shipping methods aren't shipping internationally yet. If you order from him, you'll need to pay extra for FedEx or a special carrier like that to get it shipped in a reasonable amount of time. I think Simius is in Poland as well, so I'm certain he's in the same boat, so you may just ask him about it. For the Sophia you could also try MacRorie at The Brewing Academy for North America. I think he sells Sophia cards as well, assuming he has any in stock.

 

I hope this is helpful.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me personally, I´d go with:

- U1MB (Lotharek)

- UAV (got mine from tf_hh)

- PokeyMAX (Retronics.eu)

 

Still thinking about VBXE for one machine (probably the 1088XEL), but that´s pure luxury.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, skr said:

For me personally, I´d go with:

- U1MB (Lotharek)

- UAV (got mine from tf_hh)

- PokeyMAX (Retronics.eu)

 

Still thinking about VBXE for one machine (probably the 1088XEL), but that´s pure luxury.

You'll love the VBXE if you do install one!  I can't believe I waited so long between purchasing my 1st one and installing it (over 8.5 years).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Stephen said:

You'll love the VBXE if you do install one!  I can't believe I waited so long between purchasing my 1st one and installing it (over 8.5 years).

This is exactly what I´m afraid of. Because then I need several of them for all the Ataris I have in regular use. ;)

Maybe I´ll start with my 1088XEL. But until now I could resist buying it. Let´s see, how long...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, skr said:

This is exactly what I´m afraid of. Because then I need several of them for all the Ataris I have in regular use. ;)

Maybe I´ll start with my 1088XEL. But until now I could resist buying it. Let´s see, how long...

Ha, I wonder which list is greater, the amount of software that used NTSC artifactoring for colors that will stop looking right on the VBXE, or the amount of VBXE software.  I am guessing the first list.  I will one day work on that list. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, leech said:

Ha, I wonder which list is greater, the amount of software that used NTSC artifactoring for colors that will stop looking right on the VBXE, or the amount of VBXE software.  I am guessing the first list.  I will one day work on that list. 

Who cares? The person who wants clear RGB video isn't overly concerned with NTSC artifacting, and even if they are, they can always fall back on the legacy video output when such effects need to be seen. The vast amount of VBXE users seem primarily concerned with having a clear, sharp and well saturated picture.

Edited by flashjazzcat
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, flashjazzcat said:

The vast amount of VBXE users seem primarily concerned with having a clear, sharp and well saturated picture.

Exactly. And that kept me from buying a VBXE, as I don´t care about the graphical additions and don´t want to pay for that overhead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, skr said:

Exactly. And that kept me from buying a VBXE, as I don´t care about the graphical additions and don´t want to pay for that overhead.

Well - perhaps try in an emulator the following:
Latest SDX, with EDDY 2.05, SC 1.03, and Last Word 3.3.  Full colour hi-res 80 column text is just an amazing experience on these old machines.

 

If that doesn't sway you, then I am a poor salesman :)  All said in jest, but that above setup just really showcases what can still be done on these old machines.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, skr said:

Exactly. And that kept me from buying a VBXE, as I don´t care about the graphical additions and don´t want to pay for that overhead.

By 'primarily concerned', I meant in relation to the matter of NTSC artifacting looking correct. I didn't mean to imply a complete disregard for the additional graphical facility among those who shelled out for VBXE. Having said that, for the longest time, VBXE was the ONLY way to get RGB video out of the machine at source, but with the advent of Sophia (in RGB, Component and DVI flavours), people who are solely concerned with video quality to the exclusion of extra features have another option. It's worth remembering that VBXE provides emulated PAL blending across the RGB output (via the GTIA core, which does not exist on the Sophia device).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...